Often they are the bane of a pastor's existence, mostly because they are the life event over which pastors have the least control. Our problem is that we pastors think of them as a liturgical worship service, while many who are wearing the fancy clothes think of them as an event that is all about them. If they don't, their mothers do, and now wedding coordinators have gotten in the mix, leaving the pastor very little to do besides what she is ordered to do, which has been prescribed by a deadly combination of fashion magazines and Disney.
OK, I'll stop with the cynicism. I have presided at some exceptionally wonderful and inspiring weddings, and overall, I do enjoy them. (Remembering what it takes to get them all together always makes me glad to be on the far side of the altar!) A wedding is something we fret about for longer in our lives than many other events; why all the fuss? Why do we do this, anyway?
(I'll pause here to acknowledge that many of my known readers don't even have this kind of commitment on their radar; and some have done and survived it; and some despair that it will ever happen to them; and some don't think the law or church will "let" them. But, as I'm preparing for one of the less conventional kind, it's on my mind.)
Why do we bother? Getting married, blessed, united, whatever you call it, is essentially a function of the state. It's a legal contract that affords you certain rights and responsibilities; at the end of a heterosexual wedding, we sign a LICENSE. Of course, you think you're doing it because you're in love and can't imagine not waking up with this person for the rest of your life, which, fortunately, has a lot to do with it. It IS about a relationship, about challenging yourself to work at life and love with another person. The ceremony itself,however, is not about being in love; it's about being in relationship. The reason pastors do weddings is that we want you to know that this is a big deal, that God thinks it is a big deal, and God is there with you. Humans can't possibly maintain this kind of thing without divine intervention. But there's more: God supports our relationships not by lightning bolts but through the community--those who show up to drink your free keg beer at the reception. But first, they go to the ceremony, to see that you're doing this, to offer their support by their presence (not presents, which are simply a bonus).
So, for all of you who want a simple little ceremony with just a few friends, or who want to elope, I say, no way. (OK, if you want, go ahead.) But, if you're inviting a pastor to show up, you're going to get God and theology and community and blessing in your face. It isn't all about you; it's all about everybody who's involved, who, by sitting there, have to come out and admit they're in this with you, for better or for worse. And oh yes, God will bless you, which doesn't mean it will be easy, but it will be good.